Plans submitted for new homes and community space at Chesser, Edinburgh

PROPOSALS for new homes for rent alongside community facilities at New Mart Road in Chesser have been submitted to City of Edinburgh Council.

Watkin Jones Group, a developer and manager of homes for rent, has lodged a planning application to redevelop the former livestock sheds, which includes the World of Football and World of Bowling buildings.

The proposed mixed-use brownfield development will comprise primarily of build-to-rent (BTR) homes, including at least 25% affordable homes, which the firm said will address a ‘drastic and increasing shortage’ of rental housing in Scotland’s capital. There will also be a ‘limited’ level of managed student accommodation and community facilities.

The site, which has been operated by Marco’s Leisure for 23 years, currently comprises listed and unlisted former auction mart buildings and livestock sheds which are over 120-years-old.

Watkin Jones Group revealed that, while sensitive to concerns about the loss of the facilities, independent assessments show that to bring the buildings up to standard would be an ‘unsustainable burden and cost for any organisation’. The current buildings are said to require ‘constant’ maintenance, repair and upgrade. A ‘significant’ proportion of frames are set to be retained and incorporated into the overall development.

Marco’s Leisure wants to deliver new sporting facilities. The company is in discussions with the council to explore alternative options for sporting facilities in the west of the city.

The proposed BTR apartments will comprise a mix of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom flats.

Watkin Jones Group added that the plans include a large central public square, envisaged for use by arts groups, farmers markets, and as a gathering space.

Eve Ladden Timbers from Watkin Jones said, “Our planning application for this new development at Chesser will create a thriving and diverse community as part of an overall redevelopment of the area. There is a massive shortage of homes for people to rent in the capital and through our build-to-rent, affordable and student homes these proposals will create much-needed places for people to live on a brownfield site.

“We have heard and understand people’s feelings about the football pitches but know that these are unsustainable in their current form due to the condition of the buildings. We will continue to listen to the community throughout development. We are aware that discussions are being held to look at alternative options for new sporting facilities.”

Paul Demarco from Marco’s Leisure added, “Investment in recent state of the art facilities, such as World of Football at Marine Drive, show what we can offer through delivering far more viable spaces without the ongoing cost that old out of date buildings unfortunately provide. As we are finding, it is proving near impossible to provide quality and affordable facilities under a nineteenth century livestock shed. To address this, we are currently in the process of discussing possibilities for the delivery of facilities on future sites in the west of the city with agents and City of Edinburgh Council.

“As a family business we have a long-term commitment to Edinburgh, and as the baton is passed on from the third to fourth generations of the family, who will be active for many years to come, we are dedicated to delivering high quality affordable leisure and sports facilities.”